Erythema Dyschromicum Perstans Treatment & Management

Updated: Mar 23, 2021
  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Medical Care

Many therapeutic options are available for erythema dyschromicum perstans (EDP), but few have been effective, except for clofazimine. In one series of 8 patients, 7 had a good or excellent response to clofazimine administered either 100 mg every other day to patients weighing less than 40 kg or 100 mg every day to patients weighing more than 40 kg. This medication was continued for 3 months, then reduced to 200 mg/wk and 400 mg/wk, respectively. The one remaining patient had only a marginal response. One study found some improvement in early cases, but no cures were reported. This medication seems to have a valuable effect on the inflammatory phase of erythema dyschromicum perstans.

Clofazimine is a lipophilic rhimophenazine dye with both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties originally developed to treat tuberculosis. Although its mechanism of action is unclear, it seems to exert its main effect upon neutrophils and monocytes in a variety of ways, such as stimulating phagocytosis and release of lysosomal enzymes. [36]

Clofazimine is administered orally, with improved bioavailability when taken with food. It concentrates in lipid-rich tissues, including the reticuloendothelial system, the intestine, the breasts, and the liver. Its half-life is 70 days. Isoniazid increases its serum levels and enhances its urinary excretion. Its most common adverse effects are in the skin, the gut, and the eye. It gives a temporary orange discoloration of the skin and the eye (ie, cornea, conjunctivae); it also may produce ichthyosis. Its most serious adverse effect is crystal deposition in the gut that produces a potentially fatal enteropathy. This rare complication is associated with months of high-dose (>100 mg/d) therapy. Nausea and diarrhea are more common. Splenic infarction and eosinophilic enteritis are also rare adverse effects.

Many other therapeutic modalities have been attempted, none with satisfactory results. These include ultraviolet exposure, ultraviolet avoidance, antibiotics, antihistamines, griseofulvin, chemical peels, antibiotics, corticosteroids, vitamins, isoniazid, chloroquine, and psychotherapy. The use of narrow-band UVB phototherapy has shown success in a few patients. [37, 38] A low-potency topical steroid applied twice a day to the affected areas may be used, with or without a 4% hydroquinone cream for the hyperpigmentation. [39]  A favorable result with isotretinoin has been observed. [40] A patient from Turkey was described to have responded remarkably well to treatment with dapsone. [41]  Combination nonablative fractional photothermolysis and topical tacrolimus ointment may be a safe and effective option. [42]  Tacrolimus also may be used successfully as monotherapy. [43]